Arizona is one of the Southwestern United States and it’s the 6th-largest and 14th-most populous in the country. This is remarkable because of the mountainous and desert landscape that defines the state.
Apart from being the home of multiple large metropolitan areas such as those of Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona is also home to multiple Indian reservations which include 27 federally recognized Native American tribes. This includes the Navajo Nation, the largest in the United States.
Below you can find a list of the best things to do in Arizona, a combination of natural and man-made tourist attractions that you must see when you visit the state.
1. Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is arguably one of the most famous canyons in the world. It’s carved into the Arizona landscape by the Colorado River and its cliffs reach a maximum height of over 1 mile or 6,093 feet / 1,857 meters.
This enormous canyon was formed in a process that took approximately 5 to 6 million years. This has resulted in one of the most amazing landscapes you’ll ever come across, situated within the Grand Canyon National Park.
This also means that this magnificent natural wonder is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Arizona. The canyon offers opportunities for sightseeing from the southern rim, as well as rafting, hiking, running, and popular helicopter tours.
Official website: Grand Canyon National Park
2. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is another wonder of nature that is situated on part of the Colorado Plateau, entirely within the borders of the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation. This magnificent valley runs right across the border of the Utah-Arizona state line.
The area is relatively flat and is dominated by large sandstone buttes that stick out of the desert landscape. This provides for fascinating views which have been frequently used for the most famous western movies, starting way back in the 1930s and 1940s.
Because of its feature in popular western movies, this area has defined what people think of when they imagine the Wild West. This alone makes a tour inside this magnificent landscape worth a visit while you’re in Arizona.
Official website: Monument Valley
3. Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is one of the most iconic dams in the world and is located on the border of the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada. This immense concrete arch-gravity dam was built between 1931 and 1936, right during the Great Depression.
The dam on the Colorado River was originally known as the “Boulder Dam,” about the nearby Boulder City, which in turn was named after Boulder Canyon. It was renamed in honor of President Herbert Hoover in the year 1947.
Hoover Dam has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, welcoming well over a million visitors every year. Tours are offered to visitors so you can learn all about the dam’s history and mechanics.
Official website: Hoover Dam
4. Horseshoe Bend
The Horseshoe Bend is one of the most iconic features of the Grand Canyon. This enormous curve carved into the landscape by the Colorado River forms the shape of a horseshoe and is located near the town of Page, Arizona.
This fascinating natural landmark is situated just 8 kilometers (5 miles) downstream of another famous dam in the area named the Glen Canyon Dam, located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
This means that there’s plenty to do in this area and the number of visitors who want to admire this wonder of nature has grown exponentially over the last few decades, mainly thanks to social media. Over 2 million people want to get a glimpse of the Horseshoe Bend every year, and the image below surely explains why!
Official website: Horseshoe Bend
5. Montezuma Castle National Monument
The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a series of rock-carved residences of the pre-Columbian Sinagua people. These structures were built somewhere between 1100 and 1425 A.D. and have been remarkably well-preserved.
This fascinating structure is located in the town of Camp Verde, Arizona, and the main building consists of 5 stories and about 20 rooms. Building it didn’t happen overnight as it’s estimated that the entire complex took about 3 centuries to complete.
If you want to get a glimpse into life in pre-Columbian America, (it is described as an ancient high-rise apartment complex), then the Montezuma Castle National Monument is the place to go in Arizona.
Official website: Montezuma Castle National Monument
6. Havasu Falls
If you like magnificent waterfalls then Havasu Falls should definitely be on your Arizona bucket list. It’s located on Havasu Creek and is situated within the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
One of the most remarkable facts about this natural landmarks is that it has changed in appearance multiple times over the centuries. Before 1910, it was named “Bridal Veil Falls” as the falls appeared in a continuous sheet instead of the one plunge we see today.
Today, the waterfall is a popular tourist attraction, and permits to visit must be reserved beforehand to Havasupai Indian Reservation. A campground is located nearby so you can quietly enjoy this amazing scene of a desert waterfall that plunges into a pool of a distinctive vivid blue-green color.
Official website: Havasupai Reservations